Wednesday, September 21, 2005

He's sueing the Pope?

Sep. 20 ( - The US government has asked a Texas court to dismiss a lawsuit against Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), since the Pontiff enjoys immunity as a head of state.

A lawsuit against the Pope would be "incompatible with the Unites States' foreign-policy interests," explained assistant US attorney Peter Keisler, in a motion filed to stop the suit.

The lawsuit was brought by attorney Daniel Shea, on behalf of three boys who report that they were molested by a priest in Houston during the 1990s. Shea, who has made several efforts to bring legal action against the Vatican in American courts, made the claim that prior to his election, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger shielded abusive priests from prosecution by treating their cases secretly in his capacity as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The federal intervention in the case was widely expected, since the Vatican had asked US officials to stop the proceedings. A similar lawsuit against Pope John Paul II (bio - news), also brought in a Texas court, was also dismissed on the same grounds.

Shea has said that if the Pope is granted immunity, he will appeal the case, challenging the constitutionality of US diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

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